The 10 Minute Bible Journey
by Dale Mason; foreword by Ken Ham
The Bible is a big book and it can be hard to wrap your arms around it. In The 10 Minute Bible Journey, Dale Mason takes the reader through 52 bite-size chunks that gives the “big picture” of Scripture. Each lesson is two pages of text and one page-size picture, and each lesson shows how these events connect directly or indirectly to Jesus. By the time the reader finishes the book, they should have a good idea of how the Bible fits together, to equip them to read the entire Bible on their own.
With a few caveats (one of them pretty major), I am going to highly recommend this book. It does a good job compressing the narrative of Scripture and showing how everything fits together. It keeps pointing to Jesus as the central person of the Bible, constantly directing the reader to him. While some of the lessons are little rocky in just how they present the information, many of them are compelling. The lessons on Jesus’s birth in particular are very well written, even grabbing me (who, you know, kinda know that story pretty well!). I appreciated the highlighting of Jesus throughout.
It also makes some great observations, such as that David wasn’t a little kid when he slew Goliath. It points out that the Bible doesn’t mention Mary riding a donkey to Bethlehem. It points out that Isaac wasn’t a little kid when Abraham was commanded to sacrifice him. It also points out that the ram that God provided pointed to Jesus, the substitute, rather than Isaac himself.
The pictures, too, are mostly great. They’re selected to show action and are not “cutesy” in the least. They enrich the stories told rather than distract. That’s a good use of art.
One of the problems the book has, though, is pacing. The first lesson is the first five days of creation. The second lesson is day six – creation of land animals, creation of humans, and the institution of marriage. The third lesson is the fall into sin and Cain and Abel. (However, unlike many books like this, it does make note of how God promised a Savior in Genesis 3:15.) And then it takes lessons four through seven to cover Noah’s ark. Holy Week gets less than three lessons total. That’s a problem. Noah and the Flood are important. I’m not saying ignore it. But when it gets more attention than Jesus’s last week, there’s a perspective problem.
One of the purposes of the book is to give some beginning apologetic training. Much of the Noah’s ark section does that. It’s not bad info. However, there was no apologetic information about Jesus’s resurrection. Again, it’s the wrong focus.
There’s some odds and ends that the book gets wrong. For instance, it does not acknowledge “The Angel of the LORD” being Jesus, and it teaches that no believer got to go to heaven before Jesus died on the cross. Those are relatively minor and easy to skip over.
But one major problem the book has is that though it points to Jesus, it only once announces objective justification.
Let me explain: Objective justification is the doctrine that Jesus died for all people, taking all sins on himself. Done. Period. (Subjective justification teaches that though Jesus died for all people, only those who trust in him get the benefit of it.)
This book goes out of its way to avoid objective justification. For instance, “[Jesus’s] blood paid man’s sin-debt and made eternal reconciliation with the Creator possible” (62). Not that Jesus died for your sins. Just that reconciliation is possible.
Oddly enough, that seems to be a trend in the book. When talking about David and Bathsheba, it doesn’t talk about forgiveness at all. “David was broken. He repented of his adulterous passion, then fasted… Though the Lord did not slay David, He sent great adversity” (104). Though the Bible clearly states that God took away David’s sin right there in the midst of the story, this retelling avoids that fact.
This book gets history right. It’s very solid there. It retells the stories of the Bible for the most part in a very faithful and engaging way. That said, it’s missing the core of why those stories were recorded for us in the first place. The book shows law very well, but it includes gospel only in a sideways way.
But before I said I’m going to recommend the book. Why?
Because if you change all those “possibles” to “did” as you read it, the book becomes very good indeed. I’m considering reading this with my family over the summer, and will be emphasizing objective justification. Jesus did die for you. Your sins are forgiven. It’s not just a possibility; it’s a fact.
And that truth needs to be emphasized all the time.